Victoria’s Indigenous Artist in Residence program was extended to the end of 2018 after a sometimes animated council debate on the public value of performance art.
Lindsay Delaronde presented an update on her work in 2017, which included two public performances in front of the Legislature, one at the Royal BC Museum, facilitating an exhibition of Indigenous artists and an artist symposium, and collaborating with the City’s Artist in Residence Luke Ramsey on the design of a sculpture and installation on the approach to the new Johnson Street Bridge.
In a street performance, Delaronde collaborated with another Indigenous artist to wash the sidewalk on Pandora street with water and medicine, a process she said was an extension of her grieving process in the loss of her partner.
“My work is about the here and the now,” she said. “Processing and using land, body, materials, really helped me shift my focus from the personal to the public.”
Coun. Geoff Young seemed to take issue with the value of some of these performances to the general public.
“As much as I respect the artist’s personal journey and the circumstances in which she found herself through the death of her partner, I think that the question of the extent to which our taxpayers … should be funding that journey is one that we as councillors really have to ask,” he said. “I’ve expressed on another occasion my concern with art that has to be explained.”
Coun. Charlayne Thornton-Joe asked staff whether a stipulation of the funding is that all work takes place within city limits, pointing to one that happened in Oak Bay.
Young, too, expressed concern that some of the performances took place outside city limits.
“Our taxpayers have paid for it, it should be available to them,” he said.
Coun. Pamela Madoff, however, questioned whether council should expect an Indigenous artist in residence to recognize “post-contact boundaries.” She also noted that photos taken of the artist’s work at Uplands Park, in Comox and on French Beach may be installed downtown, to be hung for public display.
Mayor Lisa Helps also said she is not concerned about the art being available to the public, listing events that took place at city hall, the artwork for the Johnson Street Bridge approach, and the street performance on Pandora as examples of where the art has been accessible.
“I can’t think of anything more public than washing Pandora street with cedar branches,” she said.
During her tenure, Delaronde has participated in 14 projects, five of them public performances, and contributed to four City projects since March 2017. Like Luke Ramsey’s Artist in Residence position, the Indigenous Artist in Residence is a 20-hour-a-week position paid $42,000.
Delaronde’s next performance, Pendulum, will take place Feb. 23 and 24 at the Belfry Theatre.